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It seems to me that most feedback forms have been designed for the simplicity of implementation, rather than providing users with a really good experience in giving feedback. I am wondering exactly what element is missing from the feedback forms for it to be usable and useful.

Some examples I have seen floating around these days include allowing more free text entry (this is not necessarily better for the user, but at least doesn't limit what they can say), adding screenshots to troubleshooting or pointing out bugs on the website, and changing the tone of the feedback and enquiry to be more user friendly and less like a form.

Has anyone looked at the psychology of users wanting to give feedback, and how to design better feedback forms? Any interesting or novel ideas/examples would be good for this discussion.

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As to the psychology, I'd work to 2 basic principles:

  • The Principle of Minimal Effort: the more effort (time / thinking activity) someone has to engage in - the less likely they are to complete your feedback form. So keep it as short and as easy to understand as possible.

  • Give Users Control: Users are choosing to engage in your feedback process because they have 'something to say'. So they need to be able to say it. Which is why giving them a free text box is probably what they actually want, as this doesn't constrain what they can say.

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I thought about working on a type of feedback form that combines the benefits of user-driven forums like GetSatisfaction and Uservoice with the simplicity of a quick and easy rating/feedback.

The idea is to allow users to both rate and order the categories that they think are most important to the website, and that way it gives the UX designers two pieces of critical information about the website. First, what users think is most important, and secondly, how well it has been designed and executed on the website.

The feedback/rating system works by assigning a weighting to each category based on the proportion of users that category in its specific position (i.e. rank category A in position 1, category B in position 2, etc). Then an overall UX rating is calculated and benchmarked against the specific time period and the distribution of weightings at the given time.

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I think the best example of eliciting user feedback in recent years is the facebook like button. It's so easy to like a photo or story you like that it seems to have become the defacto method to like something. Pandora has extended this with the thumbs up or down.

Now if you are looking to extend it a little further you could have a drop down on the thumbs up or down with a limited set of reasons the user likes or dislikes whatever it is your software is doing.

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Not sure if this is quite what you're looking for, but for novel approaches - it may be worth looking at implementing simple elements of "gamification"? While still a bit of a buzzword, the idea itself revolves around a simple concept: increase engagement by rewarding basic, boring or otherwise undesirable tasks.

https://usabilityhub.com award "karma" points for successfully completing any test. At present those points have no intrinsic value (though they suggest they are working on a reward system).

UX-stack exchange itself awards members points and badges, using this very same principle.

While you may not want to introduce a whole layer to your product, the simple take-out from this post is: A focus on making the user feel as though they are being rewarded in some way has proven results in increasing engagement

If you're interested in reading more, I recommend: http://gamification-research.org/2013/09/does-gamification-work-a-look-into-research/

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